Shopping While Black
On November 12, Aaron Blackwell and his cousin Durell Cunningham went shopping at Nordstrom’s. While they were in the store they noticed an individual, who was acting as security, watching them the whole time. In other words, the officer was fully aware that Blackwell and Cunningham paid for their purchases.
The security guard followed them out of the store and watched as they loaded their bags into the car. The officer then took out a notebook and began writing down the car’s license plate and for some reason felt it was necessary to yell out that he was going to run their plates. Mr. Blackwell circled back to find out what the problem was and why the officer was going to run his license plates.
Abuse of Authority Begins
As you will see in the video below, the officer, later determined to be Deputy Constable Daryl Jones with Lawrence Township, approaches the vehicle and starts demanding that Mr. Blackwell show him his driver’s license. When Blackwell asks for what, Constable Jones responds with, “Because I told you to.” The interaction goes downhill from there. Jones refuses to give his name, barely lets them see his badge. He refuses their multiple requests for Jones to call a supervisor. Blackwell and Cunningham repeatedly tell Jones he has to have a reason to ask for their license. At one point Officer Jones leans into the window and yells, “I got my rights to do anything I want to do. I’m a police officer.”
There is no doubt that Officer Jones was racially profiling Blackwell and Cunningham and that he displayed the frequently seen belief that black people are automatically intent on committing a crime. When Officer Jones can’t find anything to pin on them in the store, he resorts to saying they might have had a weapon as a reason for him demanding Blackwell’s driver’s license. Officer Jones says he’ll run the driver’s license and if they don’t have warrants he’ll let it go. Cunningham responds with, they are not letting it go, at which point Officer Jones, again leans in the window shouting, are you threatening me?
There are Good Cops Out There
Fortunately for Blackwell and Cunningham, an officer from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, who knows what the heck he is doing, responds to the call for backup. He listens to Officer Jones and listens to Blackwell and Cunningham. He acts in a professional manner by taking Officer Jones to the back of the car to speak privately to him while he tells Officer Jones he is wrong. This whole situation could have ended very badly had Blackwell and Cunningham been unfortunate enough to get another racist cop.
Deputy Constable Daryl Jones was fired by Lawrence Township Chief Constable Terry Burns within two hours of Burns having seen the video. You can read the NBC News article here for more details.